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Q&A With Kevin Austin Jr.: Breakout Season At Notre Dame, Dominating The NFL Combine

Kevin Austin Jr. of Notre Dame runs with the ball.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01: Notre Dame wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. (4) runs with the ball during the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Oklahoma State Cowboys on January 01, 2022 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Notre Dame wide receiver Kevin Austin Jr. has dramatically improved his draft stock over the past six months. Not only did he have a breakout season this past fall, he put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Austin showed NFL scouts that he has all the tools necessary to be an explosive playmaker at the next level. During his time in Indianapolis, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds, posted a 39-inch vertical and completed the three-cone drill in 6.71 seconds.

As for his Notre Dame tape, Austin proved he’s a true deep threat capable of creating separation with his speed in the open field. He finished his final season of college football with 48 catches for 888 yards and seven touchdowns.

We caught up with Kevin Austin Jr. to discuss his Notre Dame career, NFL Combine performance and much more.

The Spun: This must be an exciting process for you, but before we get into that I want to ask you about your breakout season at Notre Dame. What do you think led to that production?

Kevin Austin Jr.: This entire process has been exciting. Training at EXOS in Arizona has been an exciting experience. As for my time at Notre Dame, I always felt like I could play at that level. I just finally showed what I can do on the biggest stage.

The Spun: You had an impressive NFL Combine performance. How would you grade it?

KA: I was pleased with it, but I wanted to have a higher vertical. Overall though, I hit the numbers that I wanted and did what I needed to do to help my stock.

The Spun: How was the interview process at the NFL Combine? Did you have any good conversations?

KA: I did for sure. Throughout the interview process, I feel like I did a good job connecting with NFL teams.

The Spun: What would you say separates you from other wide receivers?

KA: I would say my versatility. I have the speed and size to succeed at wide receiver. I’m also a deep threat. I’m a playmaker when the ball is in the air. My mentality is that I got to go get it anytime the ball is in the air.

The Spun: Which wide receivers do you like to study?

KA: I would say I like to study route-running. I’ve liked Julio Jones since I’m a little kid. Recently, I’ve been watching Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs and Deebo Samuel. They’re so versatile when it comes to running routes.

The Spun: What are you working on during this process?

KA: I would say just being a well-rounded receiver. Watching film is a key part of figuring out what type of schemes certain defenses run. I’m just trying to get better at my routes, releases and learning the snap count.

The Spun: How do you think Notre Dame will fare under Marcus Freeman?

KA: I’m fully confident in Coach Freeman’s ability to have the team competing at the highest level. I think he’ll bring an edge to Notre Dame that we might not have had before. I also think he’s going to enhance everything we’re going to do in the future. The guys definitely want to play for him at Notre Dame.

The Spun: You chose to play in Notre Dame’s bowl game against Oklahoma State. How important was it to you to play one more game?

KA: Obviously, I just wanted to compete and be there for my teammates. I really didn’t want to take the day off. I felt like I could contribute to the team, so my mindset was that I had to suit up.

The Spun: Has it hit you yet that you’re a month away from potentially being drafted?

KA: Almost. It’s so exciting knowing the opportunity is there. I’m just waiting for the moment to happen.

The Spun: What will it mean to you being on an NFL roster?

KA: It’s going to mean everything to me. All the hard work I put in during this time will be worth it. I’m blessed to be in a position where I can compete with the best in the world.

Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network believes Kevin Austin Jr. is an "under the radar prospect" for Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

We'll find out where Austin's NFL journey will begin next month.

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.